Do you like the idea of harvesting patio tomatoes? With the weather warming up, it’s now time to plant your summer crop of America’s favorite fruit – PATIO TOMATOES! Tomatoes can be intimidating, but don’t worry – we have 6 simple tips to help you find harvesting success from your summer tomato crop.
6 Tips For Growing Tomatoes
1. Soak Tomatoes in sunshine.
Rule of thumb: More sun = more fruit.
Choose your sunniest patio/balcony spot. Tomatoes generally need 7 hours of sunshine a day. This will lead to a happier, healthier, and fuller harvest.
Tomatoes will be ok with 6 hours of full sun, but they will do better with 8. If your tomato gardens are not getting enough sun, they won’t produce the harvest you are seeking – so move them around and let the sun shine on!
Interesting to Know: The reason light is so important for your tomato garden is plants convert sunlight into energy. Your tomato plants need energy to make their fruit. Morning light provides high intensity light to your tomato plants without the extreme heat of the afternoon sun.
2. Choose nutritious soil.
Growing tomatoes can be a bit finicky, so it’s super important to set up a good home for it. Dirt matters! Tomatoes prefer slight acidity in the soil — somewhere between 6.5 and 6.8 pH. Be sure to plant your tomatoes deep enough to cover 2/3 of the tomato stem to encourage more root growth.
3. Time the planting of your garden and use the right container.
Tomatoes like warm weather (in most climates, now is the perfect time to start growing) and containers that give them room to grow. When the weather is consistently over 60° Fahrenheit, you can plant. If the temperature unexpectedly drops, roll your mobile container garden indoors!
One of the most important things you can do for your tomato plant is to give it a container that is roomy and has ample room to grow throughout the season. 5-7 gallon containers are the best, and we are partial to the grow bag. This will provide your tomato plants with a large rooting area and optimal airflow. This air circulation benefits the roots by allowing them to efficiently absorb water and nutrients from the soil.
4. Rely on plant partners.
Growing healthy, beautiful tomatoes will be a whole lot easier with a little help from plant partners. Plants like basil, garlic, and onions are especially good for repelling pests and can protect your tomatoes from nematodes, etc. (They also pair perfectly for an Italian dinner).
Everyone loves a good neighbor and so will your tomato. One of my favorite neighbors to grow next to a tomato plant is basil. One of the most popular summer herbs, basil will enhance the flavor of your tomatoes as they grow.
Also, don’t forget your people partners! Our Gardenuity Grow Pros can help you answer any questions about your tomato garden – just reach out.
5. Water. A LOT.
To get juicy tomatoes, you need to water regularly. Good, consistent watering is the key to success for growing tomatoes. Keep the soil consistently moist, but not saturated. Check on your tomatoes daily for hydration! Stick your thumb in the soil about an inch down. If the top inch of soil is dry when you push your finger into it, it’s time to give your tomatoes a drink.
During the heat of the summer, your tomato plant can require almost daily watering. If you are going to be out of town, you can put your grow bag in a saucer or kiddie pool so plants can absorb the extra moisture they need while you are gone. Better yet, take your garden to a friend’s house and let them plant-sit for you while you are away.
Inconsistent watering can cause your tomatoes to split. The best way to get around this is to check your tomatoes for moisture every day.
PRO TIP: If you are growing your tomatoes in a grow bag, remember you can’t overwater since the fabric will allow any excess water to drain. While grow bags reduce your chances of over-watering, your soil can still dry out – so be sure to water regularly.
PRO TIP #2: The best time to water your tomatoes is in the morning when they will use the water more efficiently. Water the soil, not just the plants.
6. Get your red on and add support if needed.
Everyone wants that beautiful red color of a ripe tomato. The key? WARMTH (not light!). So keep your tomatoes outside while they’re growing.
If the summer heat isn’t quite warm enough to produce a deep red color, you can pick red-orange tomatoes and place them in a loosely closed paper bag to ripen.
Your tomato may need a little support due to heavy fruiting – be careful not to hurt the root system. Bamboo stakes work well and can give your tomato the help it needs.
Harvest your tomatoes when the fruit is richly red and yields a bit to the touch. The tastiest and sweetest tomatoes are those you let mature on the vine.
Is there anything more brag-worthy than saying #IGrewThat? Nope — especially when ‘that’ is a juicy, red tomato (perhaps being served to your friends in this ricotta tomato toast?).
Already got a good harvest? Here’s how to tell if your tomato garden has died.